A Phone Call To Poison Control

By Beck


I went into the living room to find my son freaking out and my youngest kid with her hand full of little green seed pods, plucked from a tree in our yard.

“I thought they were little baby green beans!” said the Baby, pouting. I told The Girl to help The Baby rinse out her mouth and looked up the plant online.

Locust plant, I looked up. Okay, I knew it wasn’t the honey locust… what was the other type? The black locust. That’s the one.

And what I read next had me frantically punching in the numbers for Ontario’s Poison Control hotline and desperately saying into the phone that I thought that my four year old had eaten something REALLY poisonous.

All mothers have that moment, I think, that split-second thing that changes an ordinary day into stark, unbearable terror. My oldest child got rushed to the hospital before she was 1, suspected of having the same stomach problem that killed my mother’s youngest brother when he was just a toddler. My son fell down the stairs and was unconscious before he hit the bottom step, pulled a free-standing dishwasher onto himself, caused me to call poison control a dozen times. And each time it was the same feeling, this moment of utter heart-racing horror.

The poison control nurse was upset too, but was trying to keep me calm. Could I get someone to quickly verify that it was, in fact, a black locust plant? And then I was to call an ambulance as quickly as I could. I ran out of the house, straight into an acquaintance carrying her newborn baby in her arms.

Do you know plants, I said, probably rather hysterically.

Yes! she said. I do. Her baby looked at me with his solemn grey eyes.

Each time I’ve been so scared with my kids, there has been that moment when it became obvious that things had turned around, that everything was going to work out – the doctor walking down the hallway with the relieved look on her face, the stupid dishwasher being lifted up to reveal that my child had been so quiet not because he was gravely hurt but because he was FURIOUS, and the moment when a friend held a flowering plant in her hand and said, brow furrowed, that she didn’t think it was a locust at all.

“I wish you’d TOLD me that you thought that was a poisonous plant,” my husband said to me later that evening. “I ate those beans all the time when I was a kid. Siberian Pea Shrubs are everywhere around here.”

I called back Poison Control after everything was all figured out and The Baby had been comforted (“You mean I’m not gonna die?” she asked me, lip quivering. OUCH.). Another nurse picked up the phone, and I told her who I was. “Oh, she told me about you!” she said. “She was real upset, and said some poor little girl had eaten something really poisonous.” She thanked me for calling back and then went back to her work, telling other mothers sensibly – and impossibly – to calm down now, to just tell her what happened.

17 Responses to A Phone Call To Poison Control
  1. Nowheymama
    July 2, 2009 | 10:42 am

    You KNOW I understand that feeling. I’m so sorry you had to feel it (again), and I’m so glad The Baby is fine.

  2. Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)
    July 2, 2009 | 11:13 am

    Wow! How terrifying!!!

    I’m so glad everything turned out okay… I can’t even imagine how afraid you must have been.

  3. Carrie
    July 2, 2009 | 11:40 am

    Wow – how scary!!! I’m glad it wasn’t poisonous, but yeah, I know that terror!!! 🙁

  4. AmyG
    July 2, 2009 | 11:52 am

    I would’ve been frantic, as well! I’m glad it all turned out well, though!

  5. Kara
    July 2, 2009 | 12:00 pm

    Scary! I had to call poison control just a few days ago because my 3 year old was eating my birth control pills like candy. Having anything happen to one of my kids is my worst fear and gets my heart racing just thinking about it.

  6. Omaha Mama
    July 2, 2009 | 12:06 pm

    I’ve had too many of these moments lately with our son. He who cannot be told, but must test, test, test every limit ever set.

    I’m glad it was okay, that your baby is fine too.

  7. Susanne
    July 2, 2009 | 3:15 pm

    Oh Beck, been through that terror. I know that stomach dropping feeling too. Glad to hear that all was well and the Baby is alright.

  8. Penelope
    July 2, 2009 | 3:17 pm
  9. Hannah
    July 2, 2009 | 3:48 pm

    Whew! SCARY!
    My only call to Poison Control occurred when my middle child ate about half a tube of Burt’s Bees lipstick!

  10. Sandy
    July 2, 2009 | 4:19 pm

    How scary! There are so many things to worry about. Eeek! And Oscar has only JUST BEGUN to be mobile by rolling over.

  11. Don Mills Diva
    July 2, 2009 | 4:33 pm

    God, they know how to terrify us, don’t they?

    And the worst part is I fear it never ends when they grow up…

  12. Painted Maypole
    July 2, 2009 | 11:01 pm

    MQ drank a tiny tiny bit of nail polish remover when she was about 14 months. Poison control told me she’d be fine, but might act a bit drunk.

  13. Sarah Berry
    July 3, 2009 | 9:52 am

    I am glad it turned out not to be poisonous, but it must have been really scary!

  14. Herb of Grace
    July 3, 2009 | 2:25 pm

    I just love this post 🙂 I’v done this sooo many times and usually (so far, anyway) I’ve been able to talk myself down out of the tree. But I have also rushed a disoriented and bleeding-from-a-head-cut daughter to the ER. And now that my son is two, I foresee many, many more such episodes. It’s like a right of passage for moms…

  15. Chantal
    July 3, 2009 | 3:11 pm

    If I wasn’t already following you on twitter, I probably would have been crying half way through that post! Thank God I knew she was going to be okay!

  16. mimi
    July 4, 2009 | 3:54 am

    Remember when Munchkin at the philodendron. At least you weren’t hooked up to a boob pump running around the yard ( That was fun)

    Still, terrifying. Phew.

  17. Para Ma
    April 14, 2012 | 1:41 pm

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